Last night I went to our local “dollar theater” so that I could enjoy Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on the big screen one more time before home entertainment release. I loved it just as much, if not more, than I did the night before its original theatrical release. This inspired me to try and list the movies released in 2014 that I enjoyed watching the most. It’s been quite a while since I posted a Top 10 Tuesday list. Usually, the lists are compiled off the top of my head and in no particular order. That is almost true for today’s list. Almost. And remember folks, we each have our own tastes and opinions; agreeing to disagree is the way to go. However, feel free to add any additional films that you loved this year in the comment section below. Given that this is only mid-September, I can pretty much guarantee that there will be an update to this list as a full cinema year in review come December. Enjoy:
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I cannot express in words the impact that this film, and its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has had on me. When it was released, the theatre showed both films as a back-to-back double feature. It was amazing. It is near cinematic perfection for me. Andy Serkis is a genius. I’m going on record as saying this is my absolute favorite film of 2014.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I will admit it…Captain America was not my favorite of the Marvel films leading up to the Avengers. I loved Iron Man and Thor too much. But, wanting to complete the entire ‘series’, I went to see Winter Soldier. Then…I went to see it again. And then once more for good measure. I’m not sure who said it first, but I’d read someone say that this film not only raised the bar, but it was “everything a super hero movie could and should be.” I couldn’t agree more.
3. (speaking of super hero movies…) Guardians of the Galaxy. When it was first announced, I couldn’t get past the idea that Marvel was tying in the juggernaut Avenger franchise with one of its–let’s be honest–lesser known brethren. Add to that the fact that Chris Pratt was tapped to play the lead? Christ Pratt? This will never work, I thought. Never in the history of movies was I so happy to be proven wrong. They did such a great job with these characters. And seeing it more than once allows you to really appreciate the little jokes and special effects that went under the radar on first viewing. From the moment the Awesome soundtrack begins playing, to the legendary cameo at the end credits, Guardians was a pleasant surprise; a little bit of Star Wars, Firefly, and Avengers all rolled into one. I am Groot.
4. Maleficent. My entire life I’ve stood by my opinion that Maleficent was the greatest and most cold hearted of all the Disney villains. The woman put a death curse on a baby because she wasn’t invited to a party. In the years since Gregory Maguire made an anti-hero of the witch, Elphaba, in The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a number of fairy tale characters have been given a new spin on life. I was a big fan of Charlize Theron’s Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. And, when I saw that Angelina Jolie had been cast, I knew Maleficent would be even better. Put it this way…I saw this movie 4 times in one weekend. Yes, you read that right. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right? Well, Disney finally gave the old girl a backstory with good reason to be furious. Switching things up in this movie further cemented my love for this beautifully misunderstood fairy.
5. The Lego Movie. Once again, I wanted nothing to do with this movie (yo, Chris Pratt, what’s up?) Seeing overpriced, minimally packed, imagination limiting Lego sets in the stores for the last 20 years, I grew disgusted with them. When I was a child, you bought Legos in big tubs that, if you put your mind to it, allowed you to create whatever you wanted. Now, they are all movie tie-ins that only construct one particular thing, and then game over. Yet after hearing my family rave on and on about it, I finally caved. And, they were right: everything IS awesome. The first few minutes, I questioned why I had spent the money. Then something changed. The Lego movie didn’t take itself seriously at all. In fact, it thumbed its nose at the very product it was endorsing, mocking the way things have become and encouraging kids to break free and play with their toys the ‘right’ way.
6. 22 Jump Street. As a child of the late 70s/early 80s, I grew up watching Johnny Depp and the gang down on Jump Street. When the original movie was announced, I cringed. Why can’t they come up with something original and stop remaking old TV shows? Boy was I wrong! 21 Jump Street, was and is, one of my favorite movies. It was so damn funny. And, although they recycle a lot of the same jokes in the sequel, they do so with style. 22 Jump Street makes fun of itself at every turn (and endlessly during the credits). The chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is eat-them-with-a-spoon-adorable. This was a sequel well worth the making. Go ahead and judge me, I don’t care. I still love these guys.
7. Million Dollar Arm. Oh, look. I gave even more money to Disney this year, haha. No, seriously, though I love a good sports movie. Which is funny, because I hate sports. But, you can’t go wrong with a good baseball movie, especially one based on such an inspiring true story. It ran a little long in a few spots, but character development has to happen some time, right? It was a feel good film that made me want to go out and play ball. Or at least watch a few games. Or at the very least, watch the movie again. Bollywood meets the ball field; it’s full of Win.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past. Okay. In order for me to truly enjoy this film, I had to amp up my suspension of disbelief and also learn to let go of any timeline inconsistencies that continue to crop up with this franchise. That being said, this movie was great. (spoiler alert) I wasn’t so sure I liked the sappy happy ending, but if they were looking to retire the original X-Men film cast, they did so graciously. Wolverine, like Hugh Jackman, will always look the same, so he can pop in and out of any future films they release. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are incredible. I adore them both. And, this film broke my heart because I know that the incarnation planned for Quicksilver in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron will never be as entertaining as Evan Peters’ performance here.
9. Neighbors. Give me a second here….mmmmm…Zac Efron…Okay, that’s out of my system. What more can I say? It’s another raunchy Seth Rogan comedy with a fantastic supporting cast. A college movie classic for a new generation. Such a funny movie.
10. [TIE] Into the Storm and Knights of Badassdom. I seriously couldn’t make up my mind which movie I wanted to include in my 10 most enjoyable for the year, so I chose both. First, as a long-time obsessed fan of the weather and also the movie Twister, Into the Storm was a no-brainer for me. If Twister was the film where we learned all of the meteorological lingo, Into the Storm is where we learned how crazy a storm can be. 20 years was enough time for Hollywood to master some new special effects and movie trickery to make this film loud and intense. As with most of these nature-hates-man movies, the plot was pretty thin. But it was so much fun to watch! As one of my girlfriends said leaving the theatre, “That was stressful.” Knights of Badassdom was way less stressful, unless a bunch of LARPers summoning up a demon is enough to rattle you. It’s probably my new favorite stoner movie. Classic.
As I said, 2014 isn’t over yet. There were plenty of other films I enjoyed going to see; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Monuments Men, Bad Words, Godzilla, the Fault in our Stars, Robocop, Lucy, etc. And there are more on my list of things to see this fall/winter: The Box Trolls, Gone Girl, Big Hero 6, Dumb and Dumber Too, Interstellar, Fury, Into the Woods, Night at the Museum 3, and the final Lord of the Rings Hobbit film. There were a lot of movies I missed this year–some intentionally. Share your favorites and suggestions in the comments!